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Ontario launches $5.75M multi-year project to improve soil health

December 5, 2019
By Top Crop Manager


The governments of Canada and Ontario launched a $5.75-million, multi-year project on World Soil Day (December 5) to help the province’s farmers improve soil health, enhance water quality and promote environmental stewardship.

The On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring (ONFARM) project, which will be funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, will support a range of new activities.

The ONFARM project will develop a more comprehensive, science-based method to measure soil health in Ontario. Currently, soil sampling has some faults in variability but these can be minimized with a thorough approach. Having a province-wide approach will also allow resources to be targeted and the province’s progress to be tracked.


ONFARM will also measure the effectiveness and management practices that aim to reduce nutrient runoff from farms, and work directly with farmers to build relevant ways to improve productivity, soil health and water quality. Applied research and monitoring sites will also be built to facility more peer-to-peer learning and industry collaborations.

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) will deliver the programming for the governments through to the end of the Partnership in 2023. ONFARM will build on other environmental protection initiatives supported by the Partnership and delivered by the OSCIA, such as the Environmental Farm Plan and the Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability initiative.

ONFARM also supports and leverages other related actions with industry targeting improved soil health, such as the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program and the pending work of the Ontario Soil Action Group. The project will also support the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

“OSCIA is very excited to be part of this long-term soil health and water quality research project,” said Les Nichols, president of OSCIA. “We applaud plans for a coordinated network of sites across the province that will involve farmers in project development and management decisions. It’s a terrific example of the seek-test-adopt philosophy that guides our on-farm applied research efforts.”

The United Nations designated December 5 as World Soil Day to raise awareness of the decline of soil health throughout the world and the steps that can be taken to build soil health and associated benefits.

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1 Comment » for Ontario launches $5.75M multi-year project to improve soil health
  1. Cereal rye is an excellent weed suppressant and soil builder when used properly, ie, keep it green, keeps it effective, let it go to seed and rye lets weeds flourish. Embedded tap roots will grow regardless unless totally crowded by super high planting rate.
    Rhizomes, eg thistles will tend to grow regardless unless seeding rate is very high, crowds them out.
    Overall, the allelopathy effect is limited to the extent of the root zone of the rye. I would suggest a test plot for rye with corn planted 12 inches apart, should work, ie root radius of rye plus root radius of corn apart.
    Some really good sources of info:

    Cover crop sources;
    Speare Seeds, Harriston,

    located in Vaughn and may be purchased from BJS in Stayner,

    Dave Brandt from Ohio is one of the no-till cover crop pioneers

    I share some of my reading list.
    These first two, I have and they are excellent books. this is a reprint of a book from the 1970’s almost 600 pages in small font. Many photo-micrographs with 50,000 to 80,000 magnification looking at cellular level. The mineral model augmented by biology. talks about endocytosis. This book talks about fertility using cover crops.

    Some other good sources, these are helping my with my experiments with cover crops in rotation, combined and sequential planting.
    Deep root crops such as tillage radish, alfalfa, comfrey will pull micronutrients from the subsoil into the topsoil when that plant dessicates and decomposes also adding organic matter and humus, ie food for the soil microbes has excellent links/data and ideas for soil health and cover crops.

    Allelopathy (what is and what is not, how it works, when it works) is of course very important to know,
    Generally different species not affected by allelopathy. Eg Cabbage, squash cucumbers, potatoes will grow side by side. Corn is a cereal and rye will suppress corn.

    Some very old books,

    You probably know about this,

    Consequences of not taking care of the soil,

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